ARDMORE, Pa. (AP) — The U.S. Golf Association is not opposed to inflicting cruel and unusual punishment at its premier championship, so here’s something it might want to consider.
Award the “Phil Mickelson Medal” to the runner-up in the U.S. Open.
There is precedent. The U.S. Open champion has received a gold medal ever since this brute of a tournament began in 1895, and yet the USGA tinkered with 117 years of tradition by last year changing the name to the “Jack Nicklaus Medal.”
An argument can be made that Nicklaus, a four-time champion, isn’t even the face of the U.S. Open. Bobby Jones won it four times in eight years. The remarkable career and comeback of Ben Hogan was defined by the U.S. Open. He won his four titles in six years, including the year he couldn’t defend because he was recovering from near-fatal injuries after a head-on collision with a bus.
But there is no disputing who has cornered the market in silver.
Mickelson broke the U.S. Open record with his fifth runner-up finish in 2009 at Bethpage Black. There was a three-way tie for second that year with David Duval and Ricky Barnes, and the USGA had only one medal to present at the closing ceremony.
“I’ve got four of those,” Mickelson said. “I’m good.”
Sam Snead was a runner-up four times, and that doesn’t even include the 1939 U.S. Open in Philadelphia when he had a two-shot lead with two holes to play. He made bogey on the 17th and, not knowing the score, played the par-5 18th aggressively and took a triple bogey. Snead also lost in a playoff to Lew Worsham in 1947 at St. Louis when there was a dispute over who was away on the last hole. Worsham called for a measurement, Snead went first and missed a 3-footer to lose by one.